Rosemary’s Baby-1968

Rosemary’s Baby-1968

Director-Roman Polanski

Starring-Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, Ruth Gordon

Top 100 Films-#8     Top 20 Horror Films-#4

Scott’s Review #9

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Reviewed June 17, 2014

Grade: A

 Rosemary’s Baby is not only a great film, it’s a masterpiece. Easily one of my favorites in the horror genre, it’s also towards the top of my favorite films list.

The beauty of this film is the power of suggestion and subtleties. It has none of the blood, gore, or standard horror frights one might expect. It doesn’t need them.

The audience knows something is off by clues that are given throughout the film. The closed off room in the young couple’s apartment, the sweet, but a bit odd elderly neighbors, a strange suicide, a mysterious, horrid smelling, good luck charm. Rosemary’s due date (June 6, 1966- “666”).

The strange, dreamlike conception scene is intense and surreal. Her husband- claiming Rosemary passed out from too much alcohol- begins to become a suspicious man following the incident, but we are confused by his involvement- what are the neighbors up to, we wonder? Are they sinister or simply innocent and meddlers?

In a sinister scene, Rosemary gnaws on bloody raw meat, catches her reflections in the glass and is horrified by her behavior.

Mia Farrow is frightfully good as the waifish, pregnant, Rosemary, who loses, instead of gains weight. The film also has a couple of real life eerie occurrences: the building setting (The Dakota) is where John Lennon was shot and killed, Director Roman Polanski’s wife, Sharon Tate, in a cameo, was murdered shortly after filming by Charles Manson.

Similar in theme to other devilish/demon films The Exorcist and The Omen. This is a film that must be seen by everyone and only shines brighter with each subsequent viewing.

The Gruesome Twosome-1967

The Gruesome Twosome-1967

Director-H.G. Lewis

Starring-Elizabeth Davis, Gretchen Wells

Scott’s Review #8

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Reviewed June 17, 2014

Grade: B+

This offbeat treat is an incredibly strange, super-low budget horror film from influential director H.G. Lewis. This film is definitely an enjoyable, campy, midnight-movie type of experience. The acting is completely over-the-top and played for laughs, purposely. It felt like watching a horror version of a John Waters film and the atmosphere and acting style surely influenced Waters.

Apparently, shots were added to fill the running time to warrant a film release. KFC and Michelob product placed and one favorite scene is a sorority type slumber party as the girls danced while eating KFC.

The 7 minute intro of the talking foam heads is wonderfully strange and not to be missed. While campy, there is one intensely gruesome scene towards the beginning of the film and a must-see for cult horror and/or late night film fans.

The Apartment-1960

The Apartment-1960

Director-Billy Wilder

Starring-Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine

Scott’s Review #7

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Reviewed June 17, 2014

Grade: A-

Another gem by Billy Wilder (Sunset Boulevard, The Lost Weekend), this one is set in 1959 New York City, a setting and time period I just adore. The black and white is highly effective as it portrays a loneliness and bleakness of the characters that are all friendless, sad, and starved for love.

It questions social morality and getting ahead in the corporate world, but goes from drama to romantic comedy, but with no sappiness. Quite the contrary, as the film has dark moments of despair and angst.

The film clearly had a direct influence on “Mad Men”. As with most Billy Wilder films, there is a darkness of humanity, which is fascinating to watch.

Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine are terrific, but knocked down a notch as I didn’t exactly see the chemistry between them, but an excellent film. This won the 1960 Best Picture Oscar.

Peyton Place-1957

Peyton Place-1957

Director-Mark Robson

Starring-Lana Turner, Lee Phillips

Scott’s Review #6

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Reviewed June 17, 2014

Grade: B+

Pure scandalous soap opera, but well made. The sleepy, seemingly wholesome, quiet New England town is captured well, but secrets lie within its white picket fences (don’t they always).

Topics such as adultery, rape, murder, and suicide are tackled. Not sure I quite agree with the slew of Oscar nominations it received that year (1957), but acting-wise, Hope Lange was the standout for me.

It reminded me of the syrupy prime-time soaps of the 1980’s, but certainly much better written and acted then they were. This is not intended to demean the film as it is interesting, engaging, and dramatic, with good characterization, but when analyzed, it is fluff, just good fluff.

Stalag 17-1953

Stalag 17-1953

Director-Billy Wilder

Starring-William Holden, Don Taylor

Scott’s Review #5

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Reviewed June 16, 2014

Grade: B

“Stalag 17”, a film by famed director Billy Wilder, tackles the theme of POW’s during World War II. This film reminds me a bit of the acclaimed television show M*A*S*H in that the comedy elements are similar (men in drag, a light subplot of one soldiers obsession with Betty Grable). However, this film is heavy on the drama side too and deep cynicism that network television shows cannot match.

A group of American soldiers are held in a POW camp by Germans. Somehow any plan for escape is realized by the Germans. A whodunit ensues to find out who exactly the mole is and what his motivations are. Liberties are taken- I doubt the real German soldiers would be as nice as they are depicted in the film.

William Holden stars as the cynic of the camp and the likely suspect, but is he the culprit? This film is a hybrid of other Wilder films- the cross dressing theme in “Some Like it Hot” is depicted and shades of the darkness of “Sunset Boulevard” (also starring Holden) appear.

The black and white is effective in eliciting the confinement of the camp. Good film though a predictable “seen this all before” element nagged throughout.

All is Lost-2013

All is Lost-2013

Director-J.C. Chandor

Starring-Robert Redford

Scott’s Review #4

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Reviewed June 16, 2014

Grade: D

The accolades heaped on this film from 2013 escape me. Apparently, some felt that this was Robert Redford’s late in life masterpiece. I’ve never found him to be a great talent as an actor, and while not horrible in this film, it is certainly not the Oscar worthy performance being bandied about. Many actors would play this role better- Tom Hanks, Sean Penn come to mind.

Beyond the performance there are facets of the film that are unexplained (how did he become shipwrecked? Why did ships pass by not noticing him? who is he???). Much of the movie dragged and a feeling of having seen this film many times before kept gnawing at me, albeit without a one person cast, which I give it respect for. But castaway, shipwreck movies have been around since the beginning. It had the standard plot developments of this type of film- broken equipment, sharks, storms, which made it feel quite contrived. Fail.

Noah-2014

Noah-2014

Director-Darren Aronofsky

Starring-Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly

Scott’s Review #3

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Reviewed June 16, 2014

Grade: B+

Upon hearing that Darren Aronofsky, a very dark director (Black Swan, Requiem for a Dream, and The Wrestler), would be tackling a religious film piqued my curiosity. Those expecting an uplifting, happy film about “god” will be disappointed. Apparently this film is generating a great deal of controversy from the religious folks, which I find interesting, but nobody wants me to go off on a religious tangent.

The film tells the tale of the biblical figure, Noah, and his quest to do God’s will through signs he is given. It takes incredible talent to make a film like this not seem silly and Aronofsky, Russell Crowe, and Jennifer Connelly succeed.

The film is quite dark and at times Noah comes off like more of a madman than a savior. The visual effects and the musical score are wonderfully effective. A few plots holes, but a nice fantasy/apocalypse type film.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2-2014

The Amazing Spider-Man 2-2014

Director-Marc Webb

Starring-Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone

Scott’s Review #2

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Reviewed June 16, 2014

Grade: B+

Super-hero movies are not my top genre (although admittedly, I end up seeing most of them). They are fun, popcorn-type films not to be over-analyzed or taken too seriously. One thing that confuses me is the seemingly constant reboots of the franchises and forgetting the previous installments. Wasn’t this series just made with Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst not too long ago? That being said, the strongest part of this film is the chemistry between Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone, which is undeniable and great to watch. Sally Field adds life to anything she appears in. In fact, the more “human” parts of the film are the best.

The special effects/CGI are admirable. I enjoyed how one “villain” is actually a close friend of Peter Parker’s, wonderfully played by Dane DeHaan. His character has many nuances. The other villain, Electro, played by Jamie Foxx, is silly and his story almost seems botched. His motivations are weak. He hates Spider-Man and wants to destroy the city because of a contrived misunderstanding?? I do not want to over-analyze, as this is a fun, enjoyable summer film. Enjoy.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire-2013

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire-2013

Director-Francis Lawrence

Starring-Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson

Scott’s Review #1

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Reviewed June 16, 2014

Grade: B-

I confess to not having read any of the Hunger Games books so I am critiquing the film on its film merits only with no knowledge of the books. Interestingly, I graded the first Hunger Games film a B- and that is what I am giving this one, almost for the same reason.

The first hour of the film sets up the second hour, but it is unnecessarily drawn out. In fact, at times it’s slightly dull. The meat of the film then takes off and the film is quite good though the film still does not completely hold my attention throughout.

First and foremost, Jennifer Lawrence is the best part of the film- she has the charisma and likability to carry it off. The chemistry between the 2 leads (Lawrence and Hutcherson) is there so there is certainly rooting value for the couple. The third part of the triangle is weak (Liam Hemsworth has far too little screen time to make him a viable rooting factor). Donald Sutherland is wonderful as the evil President, but Philip Seymour Hoffman seems to phone in his performance and the character is not all that intriguing.

The mood of the film and visuals (fog, train sequences) are great- there is modern darkness to the film and the premise and wondering who will die next during the games is interesting. The somewhat twist at the end was effective.

To summarize: nice characters/acting, great looking film, mediocre story and slow pacing in the first act.

Welcome to my blog! My name is Scott Segrell. I reside in Stamford, CT. This is a diverse site featuring hundreds of film reviews I have created ranging in genre from horror to documentaries to Oscar winners to weird movies to mainstream fare and everything in between. Please take a look at my Top 100 Films section! This list is updated annually- during the month of September. Simply scroll down to the Top 100 Films category on the left or right hand side of the page. Enjoy and keep the comments coming!